Stop HS2 have launched a myth-busting factsheet for MPs and peers to counter much of the spin that has been surrounding the HS2 project. Key points include:
- That far from being a magic wand to cure the North-South divide, HS2 would simply reinforce the economic dominance of London, especially as it intends to connect to Old Oak Common, which is being hailed by developers as ‘The next Canary Wharf’.
- Promises being made about the ability of HS2 to ‘free up capacity’ are exceptionally suspect, with rail experts such as Chris Stokes and Lord Berkeley having significant doubts. Any policy to cancel existing inter-city services would leave behind all the towns and cities they serve which are not on the HS2 route.
- HS2 is forecast to be a net carbon contributor 120 years into the future, according to the official forecasts from HS2 Ltd themselves.
- There is a requirement in the latest HS2 business case for £11.1bn worth of cuts to existing services, branded as ‘Classic Line Savings’ over the next 60 years.
- Passenger forecasts have simply been invented for no other purpose than to try and justify the building of HS2, with it being suggested that HS2 would carry more passengers than all current inter-city services on the East Coast, West Coast and Midland Mainlines combined, despite the fact that HS2 would stop at far fewer stations.
- There has still been no published assessment of the risk HS2 poses to the clean water supplies of millions of people, despite the requirements of the Water Frameworks Directive. It is still far from certain that the proposed routes through the Chiltern Aquifer and the Cheshire Brine Fields are even possible.
- Far from being intended to take flights out of the air, HS2 is being actively lobbied for by at least four major airports which see it as essential to their expansion plans.
- The 250mph design speed means the project maximises destruction to the natural environment, threatening 693 classified local wildlife sites; 21 designated local nature reserves; 33 SSSIs; 5 wildlife refuges of international importance and 108 ancient woodlands.
- According to a report for HS2 Ltd by KPMG, HS2 would need roughly 67% of the levels of electricity the entire rail network currently uses, and there are no plans or costings for infrastructure to generate or transmit this power.
- According to HS2 Ltd, almost 20,000 jobs will be permanently displaced by HS2, with the project due to create only around 8,000 more jobs than it displaces, with many of those new jobs being temporary construction jobs.
Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin said:
“Much of the case for HS2 has relied on getting politicians to believe and repeat fact-free bombastic rhetoric and wishful thinking, but with this white elephant truly on its last legs we have not only seen increasingly more desperate claims being made, but also the clear and plentiful negatives about the project are being dismissed by HS2 Ltd and its supporters with an almost sociopathic arrogance.”
“The facts of the matter are simple, there was never an assessment of what was needed for UK transport infrastructure. Instead, people with vested commercial interests in seeing the Government commit to building the most expensive railway in the history of the world lobbied hard, and got what they wanted. All the problems with HS2 stem from this point, and that is why as the costs have skyrocketed, the lobbying from those realising just how much gravy there is on this train has intensified. It has always been the case that more benefits can be delivered to more people, more quickly, more sustainably and for significantly less money than HS2 by investing in the short distance journeys within regions that the vast majority of people take every day, it is just a shame it has taken ten years for politicians to start accepting that truth.”
Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2, said
“There are a lot of misconceptions flying around about HS2. Some of these are just misunderstandings, or are based on out of date information, some of them are being suggested by the kinds of people who are lobbying for HS2. What we wanted to do was to put together a myth-busting briefing for Members of Parliament, especially new MPs, so they had all the latest information. Of course, it is not just for people in Parliament, it is for everyone who is interested in finding out the truth about the downsides of HS2.”
The Stop HS2 Myth-Buster can be found here